Test tube color mixing and painting | Teach Preschool

There are so many ways to explore colors in preschool but one of my favorite ways to invite conversation and reinforce color recognition is through any kind of color mixing experience…

I found these plastic “test tubes” at Walmart last year mixed up in all the Halloween stuff.  They were filled with candy and being sold as “magic potion” or something like that for kids.  I bought several sets of test tube candy filled containers on sale and added the candy to our trick or treat bags but hung on to the test tubes for other uses in my classroom…

When I told my nephew that we were going to go over to the preschool so he could paint with me, he immediately told me that he didn’t want to paint.  My nephew has never been all that interested in painting, and I knew that. This is why I tried to make the “invitation to paint” irresistible….

As soon as my nephew saw the test tubes, he asked excitedly, “What are we going to do with that?”  Then he took off the lids and got busy exploring all the colors of paint. I filled each test tube with one part tempera paint and one part water. My nephew’s job was to shake the test tubes so the water and paint would mix together then to remove all the lids from the tubes so he could paint…

I had to show my nephew how to squeeze the end of the dropper, put it in the tube, then let go so he could fill up the dropper with paint.  We used the words, “Squeeze, dip, and let go!”  After a few tries, he caught on to how to work the dropper. The focus on using the dropper combined with all the colors and the freedom to drip paint all over his paper had my nephew hooked…

My nephew explored the paint and droppers for quite some time and while he explored we talked about which colors he was using. At first he went color by color but soon he switched back and forth, mixing colors on his paper then eventually mixing colors in the tubes as well…

A simple activity that led to lots of exploration and a great opportunity to explore all our colors!

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By |2012-07-28T07:00:59+00:00July 28th, 2012|

About the Author:

Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. has been working and teaching in the field of early childhood education for over 30 years. Deborah currently owns and teaches in her own part-time, private preschool called The Children’s Studio. Deborah’s deep passion for teaching and working with young children is documented and then graciously shared with millions of readers around the world through her blog and other social networking communities. Deborah believes that young children learn best through play and exploration and embraces this belief in all that she does in her own classroom so that she can effectively and passionately share rewarding, real- life, tried-and-true practices with other teachers, parents, and leaders across the field of early childhood education.


  1. Suzanne July 28, 2012 at 12:01 pm - Reply

    Where did you find the droppers?

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 28, 2012 at 12:39 pm - Reply

      I bought them at CVS I think:) I just pick them up here and there when I run across them.

  2. Elizabeth July 28, 2012 at 9:25 pm - Reply

    I recently got a pre school position and I think this is a really cool and unique art project. Thanks for the idea!

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. July 29, 2012 at 8:42 am - Reply

      Congratulations on your new preschool position!

  3. Megan @ CoffeeCupsandCrayons August 12, 2012 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Love it! I am going to be on the lookout for those test tubes when the Halloween candy comes out! Thanks for the tip!

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